Week 3 already as the PLL season rolls along. This week, the PLL is in Columbus, OH playing at the newly built lacrosse specific venue at Ohio State University. They have sold it out, and this is good. This is the final weekend before the PLL breaks for World Championships. Teams can stay undefeated, teams can stay winless, momentum can be grabbed. For being so early in the season, it’s a big week for a number of clubs.
Last week, 1-3 on game picks and 1-3 on totals.
For the year, I am 4-4 on game picks and 3-5 on totals.
Atlas (1-1) vs Waterdogs (1-1)
When: Friday, June 16, 6:00pm
The Spread: Atlas favored by 1.5, game total set at 24.5.
Atlas gutted out a tough win over Whipsnakes last week. Jeff Teat looked excellent as expected, but the midfield production was a difference maker. Week one, Costabile/Curry/Dennis combined for three points and 3 for 17 shooting. Dickson picked up the slack with three goals. In Week Two, Dickson looked more like a rookie, with no goals and three turnovers. But the others picked up the slack. Romar hit a two, Costabile was 2 for 7, and Curry had a hat trick on three points. The thing about the Atlas is they are deep and good enough on offense to absorb bad days from Costabile, bad days from Gray, they can withstand it. On the other end, Gavin Adler is rapidly developing into the top close defender in the league. This week, the game might actually hinge on it.
Through two weeks, the Waterdogs offense has hinged entirely on Michael Sowers. Stop Sowers, stop the Dogs. It’s that simple. Stopping Sowers isn’t simple, but if you can do it, the Waterdogs haven’t been able to find secondary production. In the first two weeks, Atlas have ended the game with different defensive matchups than they had when the game started. This week, Adler should be on Sowers from wire to wire. Force Kieran McArdle to win off the dodge, and force the Waterdogs midfield to find a winnable matchup, a particularly dicey proposition if Danny Logan can play.
The Waterdogs look to be without some important pieces this week, including Alex Mazzone and Ryan Conrad. Conrad in particular is a tough one to absorb as they’ll need as much firepower as they can get, particularly if Baptiste tilts the field towards Atlas. Look for a possible expanded role for Kyle Borda. The Waterdogs defense has held up well, and they have gotten outstanding goalie play. But the offense has yet to crack 10 goals, and the opponent this week has the personnel to frustrate them. That said, it’s tough to bet against an underdog in the PLL. One goal games are frequent to say the least. In this case, I’ll risk it as Atlas -1.5 is available at even money. Bulls and the under.
Cannons (0-2) vs Chrome (1-1)
When: Friday, June 16, 8:30pm
The Spread: Chrome favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5
Chrome are coming off the rare week where they get out phsyical’d. The lineup should have a couple new faces this week. Jesse Bernhardt will be on Paternity Leave, opening the door for Troy Hettinger to get a chance. Against the Archers, they desperately needed another offensive option and someone to match with the Archers close defense physically, and Dylan Molloy is both of those in a big way. He returns to the lineup this week for them to try and attack a Cannons defense that will be playing with a new member in Cade Van Raaphorst and a first time gamer in Max Wayne. The Cannons have given up 30 goals this year, more than any other team.
On the other end of the field, the Cannons offense is finding their form. Their 26 goals in two games are the second most in the league. Matt Campbell and Ryan Drenner in the midfield have been particularly good so far. Drenner is currently shooting 50%, has as many goals as Jeff Teat, and has just one turnover. Campbell showed a remarkable amount of confidence a week ago, firing a two pointer with the game on the line against Chaos and hitting it to send the game to overtime. Asher Nolting at attack is also looking solid, committing just two turnovers in two games. It’s not often primary ball carriers leave college for the pros and start to turn the ball over noticeably LESS, but Nolting has done it.
Faceoffs have been a struggle for Cannons, as Bones Kelly had a very poor day against Mike Sisselberger, but battled back nicely against Nick Rowlett. Connor Farrell is closer to the Sisselberger matchup. Bones is a veteran who will scrap, but the Cannons wings will need to be on point and disrupt Farrell off the ground if Kelly can't win clamps.
The Cannons offense is unit that can win games. They lead the league in assists with 17. Second most goals in the league. Chrome will be without Jesse Bernhardt, and rookie Troy Hettinger will make his debut in his place. It’s not going to be a walk in the park by any means, as Cannons are vastly improved even as an unfinished product. Chrome’s offense will have a physical edge, as both Wisnauskas and Handley should be able to free their hands as dodgers. Cannons are a team on the cusp, and as good as the Chrome are, I think the Cannons can once again battle with an excellent team. I’ll take Cannons +1.5 and the over.
Archers (2-0) vs Chaos (1-1)
When: Saturday, June 17, 12pm
TV: ESPN and ESPN+
The Spread: Archers favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5
There is some spice to this one. When the schedule game out, this was a matchup to circle. The Chaos are a tight knit group, loyalty and selflessness is cherished. Players opting to leave in free agency is the kind of thing some Chaos players won’t take lightly. More than any other matchup this year, this game has the “I want to crush my former teammates” type feelings. Mac O’Keefe will be out there firing away at Blaze Riorden and a defense looking to physically punish him. Challen Rogers looks like he’ll make his season debut against his former team.
Chaos have arguably the league’s top defense. Only the Waterdogs have given up fewer goals. This will be their toughest test. The Archers presumably will have Grant Ament back in the lineup. It’ll be another big matchup for Jack Rowlett, who locked up Michael Sowers in week one. But really, the test isn’t about individual matchups, because the Archers offense doesn’t really hinge that way. They beat you ball movement as much as anything. Schreiber and Ament are looking to feed, they have dodgers, but it’s about the ball more than anything. O’Keefe has found a very comfortable home in this offense, and is on pace to pass last season's shot total for him by about Week 4.
The Chaos defense plays aggressively, looking to double and hunt turnovers. They lean on Blaze Riorden to be the best in the world and make saves. Will Bowen has, as a rookie, emerged as a leading voice on the defense, this will be his biggest challenge of the year. It’s one of the best unit vs unit matchups of the weekend.
Archers currently sit atop the Sticks In Power Rankings. They are +8 in scoring differential and have yet to play a one goal game, unlike the rest of the league. It’ll be a highwire act of a game this weekend as their offense looks to attack the aggressive, physical chaos defense. The goalie battle is likely the top two goalies in the PLL at the moment. Underdogs have been a safe bet, and I think the Chaos have the feel of a team that’ll be there in September. Chaos +1.5 and the under.
Whipsnakes (0-2) vs Redwoods (2-0)
When: Saturday, June 17, 7:00pm
The Spread: Whipsnakes favored by 1.5, game total set at 23.5
The final game of the weekend. I have said before, I consider this to be the only real rivalry going in the PLL through these first five seasons. The games are always good, physical, have heated moments. It has never been played between a winless Whipsnakes team and an undefeated Redwoods team.
The Whipsnakes have been battling, but had some lapses. They haven’t really played a great 48 minutes yet. Some defensive lapses in critical moments, like the closing second against Atlas last week, have been the difference. They are much better than an 0-2 record. Tucker Dordevic is currently leading the league in shots taken. He would be the first rookie ever to lead the league in shots taken if he manages to do this all summer. Shot selection improved from week one to week two, and he’s clearly building a strong rookie of the year resume early as a primary midfield option for the Whips. The Woods have defended the midfield well. They stifled the Atlas well in Week 1, and held Connor Kelly and Zach Currier to two total goals on 11 shots combined. The close defense, on paper, has interesting matchups. Epple can physically match Rambo or Zed, Arden Cohen will be asked to handle the other, a tough call. Whichever of those two Whips attackmen can win consistently will likely be the lion’s share of touches.
Redwoods have been playing excellent team offense through two weeks. John Grant Jr has done a remarkable job getting buy-in from this group on not just sharing the ball, but working hard without it. The big/little game has been great, the movement above the cage as it happens has been even better. Wes Berg is quietly an engine making a ton of this go, and you’ll have to defend every last blade of grass against Garnsey off the ball. The Redwoods just have a different air about them this year. They have a confidence and swagger that just wasn’t palpable last season.
It would be a stunner for the Whips to stay down for long. They are aging, they finally look like a vulnerable team as opposed to their nuclear superpower status of the 2020 and 2021 seasons. They miss Brad Smith tremendously, another dodging option will unlock so many things for this group. They are -1.5 here despite being 0-2 against an undefeated team, because you can get that spread at serious plus money. The value on Redwoods +1.5 is horrid at -150. I do like them on the moneyline at -105 though, along with the under.